Doing anything Sunday night? No? We should hang out and watch NASA's Curiosity rover landing that's scheduled to occur at 10:30pm PST (Monday 1:30am Eastern). And actually, hanging out and following along as NASA JPL engineers track Curiosity's descent onto Mars is what thousands of people will be doing, courtesy of multiple video livestreams, Google+ hangouts, and even IRL rover landing parties. Here are a few of the feeds worth following:
- NASA JPL's official video feed, featuring presentations and commentary from scientists and engineers who worked on Curiosity. The feed begins at 8:30pm PST on Sunday.
- Audio-only stream of Curiosity's mission controllers at JPL. I imagine this to be like listening into air traffic controllers managing domestic flights, except a million times more exciting.
- San Francisco's Exploratorium facility, where we first met the Modernist Cuisine chefs, is dedicating this month to Mars-related programming, and will stream a webcast at 10:15pm PST Sunday with NASA visiting scientists talking about the mission.
- NASA Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute will host a Google+ Hangout Sunday night, with a scheduled appearance by Astronomer Jill Tarter, the former director of SETI (and inspiration for the main character in Carl Sagan's Contact).
- If you're looking to find other Curiosity followers and celebrate in person, Wired links to this Google map of live events going on Sunday night.
- And you can of course follow the Mars Curiosity Rover's official Twitter feed.
NASA has refused to comment on their expectations of the likelihood that Curiosity's risky landing will be a success. The $2.5 billion mission hinges on an astounding number of unknown variables, many of which will take place during the now-famous "seven minutes of terror" after Curiosity enters the Martian atmosphere. This detailed overview of the EDL (entry, descent, and landing) portion of the mission gives a good sense of just how many incredible feats Curiosity will have to achieve to get safely to the surface. But if everything goes well, the footage from high-def cameras aboard Curiosity of the last few minutes of descent will be incredible.
Below are a few more photos I took of the full-scale Curiosity Rover replica at San Francisco's Exploratorium, on display now through September 16th.